When our Client Services Director, Kirstie Macdonald was asked to speak at the Edinburgh International Magazine Festival, here at DI we did what we do best and asked the data to tell us what you think about magazines in our new age of digital-everything.


It’s widely agreed that trading in content has never been so difficult with more information online at our finger tips than we could ever process, or ever want to.  Data availability may be causing analysis-paralysis.

But DI are here with some good news…. There is SO much [data] that you really do not need to worry about, and, it’s pretty easy to work out what you should be tracking and then focus on that really, really well


The best content travels far because it resonates. It makes people think, it is relatable and identifiable.  So your data starting point is simple – look to your customers; it is as, if not more important to understand your consumer base as it is to understand your competitors.

Instead of obsessing over what your competitors are doing, writing about or featuring on their front page, obsess instead over what your audience is obsessed with.  What their passions and pains are; why they react in certain ways to certain things.  Understand them as complete people with a multitude of interests, passions, influences and preferences and tap into the reservoir of their loves to curate content that is intuitively timely and highly targeted.




We drew over half a million references to Magazines in the UK, which we cleansed (to remove content posted by publishers) and cut the data down to look at mentions shared by individual members of the public – consumers and readers.

We found that conversation around magazines consistently peaks mid-month and witnessed a clear conversational cycle around purchase, digestion, reaction and reflection followed by a tail off as people await the publication date of the following month’s edition.

magazine-blog-image-2                                                                                                                                                                                        source: Brandwatch


We learned that people are most likely to talk about – and reflect upon their favourite titles at

  • 8am and 5.30pm on weekdays e.g. commuting readership of those who purchase or take their favourite title with them when they travel to and from work
  • 10pm on Friday nights e.g. post work escapism and relaxation, perhaps even contemplation particularly as people are consuming magazines that share information around a key interest that may form part of the readers’ weekend plans
  • 12pm and 8pm on Saturdays and 10am and 5pm on Sundays


source: Brandwatch

This presents useful information regarding tactical timing and release for ad related output and content pushes and, while this represents a mere skim of the depth of analysis we could have conducted, it demonstrates the benefits of assuming an audience-centric approach to creative and content planning (rather than a category-centric and competitor focused approach).


We learned that there was not a significant gender split when it comes to discussion of magazines; however, there was a great difference when it came to ‘what’ the genders were discussing (as expected). Females were far more inclined to engage with competition-led content and upcoming issues.  Interestingly, mixed engagement occurred around content of a more political and factual nature where subjects such as Brexit and workplace / professional and B2B content were reflected upon by an equal split of males and females. Male engagement rates were peaked by sports, football and gadget related titles.


In terms of strong negative emotions and behaviours towards magazines we learned that peoples pet hates include shopping features, pull-outs and catalogues released mid-month when budgets are too tight to indulge in purchases. Avoidance of sensitive but key issue sin editorial also sparked negative conversation, as did empty cover claims, sensationalised and misleading headlines. Mistakes, such as evident lack of proof-reading and poor grammar were regularly picked up as irritating, alongside poor availability/stock of favourite titles in stores.  We also observed a clear ‘non-consumption’ type illustrated by expressions such as ‘I have never been the type to buy a magazine, I hate what they stand for’ and ‘I haven’t found a magazine that is aligned to my interests’.


In terms of strong positive associations, reactions and behaviours we observed expressions stating that magazines were seen as another way for a person to engage with a person, event or topic of great interest – another touch point in their consumption of a passion.

We also observed that consumption purposes differed widely by occasion.  In the home, magazines are consumed as a means of distraction.  Whereas at work, a magazine is consumed as a means of escapism.  This provides an interesting insight into creative and campaign planning.  Knowing how to pitch your title depending on the destination and environment within which it is consumed.

We highlighted the prominent behavior of gifting magazines to loved ones – by partners with flowers and chocolates to encourage relaxation and by parents and friends where a particular passion has been spotted which they know their pal will love and would have hated to miss. As expected we confirmed that people love freebies and that freebies can go as far as to erode loyalty for a large group and that some people admit openly to stealing to the freebies in shops without buying the magazine. Certain competitions were identified as eliciting great excitement and that framing an inspiring or thought provoking front cover is very much still a common behaviour.

Finally, a great deal of positivity towards certain recent digitization of favourite magazines, content and magazine app launches was evident within the data. Magazine endorsement of products and services still carries much weight; more so than adverts but also that ads placed in well trusted magazines or titles which celebrate particular passions carry the most influence.

It suffices to say that we could have gone into much more detail and our interest is now certainly piqued to dig deeper into some of these behaviours and comments.

But to round up, DI believe that if you want to really fight for your audience in 2016 you should commit your competitive strategy to the development of a profound understanding of your audience.  Because they are out there, right now, talking about you, talking about what you do. Taking the time to listen to them will guide you closer to them than was ever before possible.

Thank you for reading

The data used in this report was powered by Brandwatch.

© Disruptive Insight 2015.